Evolution's Snow takes £6m in shares

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The Independent Online

Alex Snow, the chief executive of the investment boutique Evolution Group, was awarded a share option package yesterday worth £6.15m as it emerged he had been working there without a formal employment contract since he took the helm 18 months ago.

Mr Snow, 34, a former rugby player with the Harlequins, was awarded options of more than 2 million shares at a price of 1p each, worth £2.05m, although he cannot sell any of the stock he buys until Evolution announces its half-year results to 30 June next year. On top of that, he will also be awarded up to 4 million options at the same price in two equal tranches, depending on the performance of the business next year and in 2005.

The generous incentive scheme, which hinges on the business growing earnings by 15 per cent a year for two years, is part of Mr Snow's formal contract. Since becoming chief executive - after Evolution, the Aim-listed stockbroker where he was chairman and chief executive, merged with rival Beeson Gregory in summer last year - he had only "informal" contractual arrangements.

It is not clear why Mr Snow had not had a formal contract before now. Under the terms of his deal, Mr Snow will be on a year's notice, although there is no change to his £100,000-a-year salary. A spokesman said yesterday Evolution's remuneration committee had canvassed the views of its biggest institutional shareholders. "It is also worth remembering that all of this is performance driven," he said. "From their perspective, it was crucial to lock in and secure the services of a chief executive who has made a real difference round there."

Yesterday's award, combined with a previous award of 5 million options and 400,000 shares Mr Snow bought himself, could see the chief executive end up with a stake of almost 5 per cent.